The Empty Quarter

December 19, 2011 by

Day Trips, Suggested Itineraries

The Empty Quarter is breathtakingly beautiful

Have a look at your pinkie finger (either one will do). Now imagine a line at its halfway point. That’s more or less how much rain falls each year on the Empty Quarter, the largest sand desert in the world, which takes up a large portion of the Arabian Peninsula.

National borders are only sketched in on the map of the Empty Quarter, and the physical space presents no limit to the imagination. In the absence of settlements, landmarks or any permanent sign of human activity, legends and conjecture have rushed to fill the void over the centuries.

Because visiting Saudi Arabia is a difficult enterprise, and reaching its part of the Empty Quarter more difficult still, traveling from the UAE offers a unique opportunity to see this awe-inspiring expanse. The Liwa oasis, the gateway to the Empty Quarter, is situated in the emirate of Abu Dhabi and readily accessible from the capital of the same name over good highways in about three hours (add on at least two more hours if travelling from Dubai).

To continue on into the vast dunes of the Empty Quarter you’ll need an experienced guide, a deft driver and a robust four-wheel drive, all of which you’ll be able to find in Liwa, or you may prefer to join a tour group back in the city. To truly experience the magic of this breathtaking region, join a group which offers the option of staying overnight in an encampment inspired by Bedouin traditions, like the Private Tour: 4×4 Desert Adventure Safari from Dubai or the Private Overnight Safari – 1001 Arabian Stars – Camel Farm, Sandboarding, Camel Rock and BBQ Dinner. Sleeping under a thick cover of stars and waking to a desert sunrise is an adventure you’ll never forget.

- James Conway

Planning a trip? Browse Viator’s Dubai tours and things to do, Dubai attractions, and Dubai travel recommendations, or book a private tour guide in Dubai for a customized tour!

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